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Dunbar Recreation Center designated a historical site

HISTORIC PLACES — The Dunbar Recreation Center, earlier this month, was approved for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition for its contributions to the local African-American community. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — A building which has, for years, served the well-being of the local Black community is now recognized as a historical landmark.

The Dunbar Recreation Center, located at 300 Kessel St. in Weirton, officially became West Virginia’s newest addition to the National Register of Historic Places on July 22.

The Dunbar Recreation Center’s NRHP number is 100006740.

The center first opened its doors in late 1944, serving as the headquarters of the Dunbar Parent Teacher Association, and hosting a variety of events contributing to the advancement of Weirton’s African-American community.

Among the events were Lincoln-Douglass banquets, United Negro College Fund drives, sports banquets, commencement exercises and other celebrations. The building also served as an auditorium, ballroom, theater, banquet hall, assembly space and gymnasium for the nearby Dunbar High School which didn’t have a dedicated indoor sports area until 1954.

It also served as a temporary gymnasium for students of Weir High School, with practice sessions and games taking place in 1956.

The process to nominate the Dunbar Recreation Center to the register began in October 2019, with collaboration between the Dunbar Recreation Center’s board and the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.

According to information provided by Savannah Schroll-Guz, director of the museum, the application was 52 pages long and included a multiple-page architectural essay, a multiple-page essay on the building’s historical significance, a bibliography, several hand-drawn floorplans and multiple maps.

The nomination was unanimously passed by the West Virginia Archives and History Commission on June 4, and formally accepted by the National Parks Service on July 22.

Other locations in Weirton listed on the National Register of Historic Places include the Johnston-Truax House at 209 Seneca St.; Marland Heights Park and the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool; the People’s Bank building at 3383 Main St.; the Dr. George Rigas House at 3412 West St.; and the Peter Tarr Furnace site.

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